Presented as a cautionary tale to the curious to warn about the futility of wasting your life: I had one of those moments this week; the sort of moment the Total Perspective Vortex from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is supposed to bestow. The moment you realise we’re just a bunch of squabbling apes on a rock spinning around a big ball of fire in the middle of a big void. Being mildly bored I was browsing through Twitter when a friend retweeted Louise Mensch’s comment about being pro-Brexit pointing out that she lived and worked in America.
(Incidentally, what poverty of linguistic imagination cooked up ‘Brexit’? A play on a smashed up compound word that barely worked when applied to Greece but at least you could see how it got there)
Rule One of Twitter. Don’t Tweet bored. Drunk is fine, drunk tweeting can be hilarious but tweeting out of boredom is the road to hell. I’d forgotten that Mensch is practically a right-wing parody account; no idea what she’s like in real life but she’s rabid comedy gold on Twitter. Living in Northern Ireland and having certain EU statutes underpinning the Good Friday agreement I’ve got something of a vested interest in the EU referendum; I was curious as to why someone who lived and worked outside the EU by choice was so agitated about it. So I asked her about it, like so:
Yeah, I know. You can see where it’s going.
First response no problem. She explains in service of making her point.
No problem with that at all. Then she starts being sarky:
Good one. I wasn't aware of that, I thought it was all one way traffic with hordes of emigrants looking to escape the dreaded tyranny of the EU. The next one tickled me the most though:
'Little EUnglander'. I've not read one of her novels but it's possibly the worst attempt at wordplay in recorded history. Which is pretty good for two words. Let's run through the genius of it.
- 'Little'. The EU is not little; certainly not in comparison to the UK. I'm still trying to work out how being pro-Europe is being small-minded in comparison to wanting to retreat to being a reasonably sized island nation at a point where the important world forces are global rather than national. What's small-minded about seeing yourself as part of a larger community than just your immediate neighbours?
- 'EUnglander.' Come on. It doesn't work on any level as a pun; it doesn't scan nor can it be crowbarred to form an amusing play on Englander or EU... erm, citizen.
- No way Mensch could have known it but I'm not English. Neither by birth nor residency.
It's also stretching it a bit to say that a lot of people live and work in many countries. It's a touch arrogant to assume that; many professions don't involve working abroad.
All this of course didn't answer my question; which was very kindly put succinctly by another user:
And when I realised I wasn't going to get any answer, maybe a little more invective at best, I walked off; frankly that's as wise as it gets. Would that I'd realsied that half an hour earlier. And I realised that I was getting a bit too invested in the EU debate when there'd be four bloody months of it and, quite honestly, I wasn't going to get anything to tell me why changing the status quo would be a wise idea.
And now I've wasted half an hour of my life talking about a minor conversation with a minor political celebrity on Twitter. I'm beginning to understand how easy life is for journalists these days; bored chat on Twitter, 500 words in half an hour, job done and down to the pub. Good life it you can get it...